Four-Year-Old Patent May Hint At Valve's Next Announcement

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Four-Year-Old Patent May Hint At Valve's Next Announcement


The secret of Valve's third big Steam living room announcement may have been revealed in a patent that was filed four years ago.

With two out of three of Valve's big "living room" announcements out of the way, all eyes now turn to the third and final secret, set to be revealed on Friday. But it's possible that Valve has already tipped its hand, thanks to a patent application [http://www.google.com/patents/US20110105231] for a "Video game controller having user swappable control components" that was filed back in November 2009.

"A game controller is provided. One or more main control input interfaces on the game controller consist of generalized sockets," the patent abstract states. "A variety of modular input interfaces can be plugged into these sockets. Hardware specific to the input type of the modular input is contained within the modular input itself, and plugged in via an interface. This allows for dual analog sticks, a combination of analog and trackball, or further any combination of touchpad, directional pad, or additional components."

Speculation that a controller will be the final piece of Valve's puzzle is driven by a few factors. The patent filing, for one, and the fact that it's a rather natural progression: states [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/128065-Valve-Reveals-SteamOS] very plainly, "Valve Corporation... has developed and produced prototypes of entertainment system hardware and software, including a set-top box running custom software and a game controller (collectively: 'Beta Products')."

We won't have to wait very long to find out, as the final Steam countdown [http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/] is 44 hours and change from hitting zero, but in the meantime, while we wait with nothing better to do, I think this makes a pretty compelling argument. Are you convinced?



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Bazaalmon

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Apr 19, 2009
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Wait, is that the actual picture of the actual controller? It's worse than the original xbox monstrosity! I'm excited for the steambox, but I hope there's a variety of controllers to choose from, since I don't have hands the size of Yao Ming's. The idea of a modular controller is really cool, and it has a lot of promise (Imagine a joystick attachment for flight sims or old school arcade games!) but what I look for in a controller, first and foremost, is comfort. The gamecube and PS2/PS3 controllers are my favorite so far, with Xbox 360's a little behind that.
 
Sep 14, 2009
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bazaalmon said:
Wait, is that the actual picture of the actual controller? It's worse than the original xbox monstrosity! I'm excited for the steambox, but I hope there's a variety of controllers to choose from, since I don't have hands the size of Yao Ming's.
i think you're overestimating how big that is, my little brother uses the xbox 360 controller just fine as a 6 year old, i'm sure your hands are much more capable of holding the "steam" controller, whatever they want to call it.

still, i'm glad someone is finally implementing more buttons and getting rid of the d-pad, most games never use it or don't use it well.
 

mjc0961

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Nov 30, 2009
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Andy Chalk said:
a combination of analog and trackball
I came. A controller that can have a trackball in it for aiming? I could walk around with an analog stick and aim with a mouse from the same device? Even if this isn't the last announcement, someone make this happen and I will give you money for it.
 

Smooth Operator

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Oct 5, 2010
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Can this patent even go through, I mean other companies are already making these...
But anyway it would be good to get more competition going on that and more importantly new standards that support a more flexible setup.
 

Something Amyss

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Dec 3, 2008
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bazaalmon said:
Wait, is that the actual picture of the actual controller?
Patent filings rarely have accurate drawings as they're primarily for demonstrative purposes.

Also, this has been the rumoured announcement some 5000 times. Not only does that mean it may not be the announcement, but also that the appearance might have further changed.

Still, modular would be nice. If they can make it cheap and reliable.
 

Agayek

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Oct 23, 2008
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bazaalmon said:
Wait, is that the actual picture of the actual controller? It's worse than the original xbox monstrosity! I'm excited for the steambox, but I hope there's a variety of controllers to choose from, since I don't have hands the size of Yao Ming's. The idea of a modular controller is really cool, and it has a lot of promise (Imagine a joystick attachment for flight sims or old school arcade games!) but what I look for in a controller, first and foremost, is comfort. The gamecube and PS2/PS3 controllers are my favorite so far, with Xbox 360's a little behind that.
It's not a picture of the actual controller. It's an artistic representation of what the final product might look like.

Don't take anything in patents as what the physical product will look like. They're never more than "kinda" accurate.
 

subtlefuge

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May 21, 2010
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As an ambidextrous person, I think it would be awesome to play fighting games with a double d-pad setup, so here's hoping?
 

spartandude

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Nov 24, 2009
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*sigh* Well we knew something along the lines of this and what's been announced were going to happen. I guess i still had some fools hope we would get some Half Life news.... yeh yeh i know, feel free to laugh at me.
 

Phrozenflame500

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Welcome to 2013, where speculation and news have become synonymous.

Be interested to see what the announcement actually is. Honestly wouldn't be surprised if it was a controller, although I would be a bit disappointed.
 

Vigormortis

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Nov 21, 2007
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Andy Chalk said:
I think this makes a pretty compelling argument. Are you convinced?
Given that this is essentially what I was talking about in your previous news post about the Steambox, yes. I'm convinced.

However, I'm starting to wonder if the next announcement will include more than just the reveal of the controller. Perhaps Valve will also reveal a device that utilizes their eye-tracking, VR, AR, or biometric feedback technology. Or, maybe they'll announcement some co-venture with the Oculus Rift people.

Or it could indeed be a reveal of Source 2 and a game. Who knows?

I just know I can't wait for Friday to find out.
 

BloodRed Pixel

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Jul 16, 2009
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And for the first time ever there is equal low level HID driver support for Windows, OS X and Linux in sight.
 

rofltehcat

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Jul 24, 2009
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A track ball on a controller? Preposterous! Controllers aren't any good for shooters!
But now they will be. If this is their next thing, I'll definitely get one!
 

Scrythe

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Jun 23, 2009
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Andy Chalk said:
"A game controller is provided. One or more main control input interfaces on the game controller consist of generalized sockets," the patent abstract states. "A variety of modular input interfaces can be plugged into these sockets. Hardware specific to the input type of the modular input is contained within the modular input itself, and plugged in via an interface."
I'm sorry, isn't this something that has already existed in several [http://www.cyborggaming.com/imgs/v3pad.png] other [http://www.cyborggaming.com/imgs/rumblepadmain.png] iterations [http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_AAvC0ZSs-1k/S_F6l8dsZxI/AAAAAAAAB3E/uPy-bAsibRM/s400/Phoenix-Reconfigurable-Cont.jpg] in the past?

How the hell can Valve hold a patent for something that already exists?
 

uchytjes

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Scrythe said:
Andy Chalk said:
"A game controller is provided. One or more main control input interfaces on the game controller consist of generalized sockets," the patent abstract states. "A variety of modular input interfaces can be plugged into these sockets. Hardware specific to the input type of the modular input is contained within the modular input itself, and plugged in via an interface."
I'm sorry, isn't this something that has already existed in several [http://www.cyborggaming.com/imgs/v3pad.png] other [http://www.cyborggaming.com/imgs/rumblepadmain.png] iterations [http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_AAvC0ZSs-1k/S_F6l8dsZxI/AAAAAAAAB3E/uPy-bAsibRM/s400/Phoenix-Reconfigurable-Cont.jpg] in the past?

How the hell can Valve hold a patent for something that already exists?
You know those random patent cases that occasionally come up about already widely used things? Basically that, only with valve actually acting on the creation of the thing rather than just suing people to get money.

ot: I remember when I first saw this patent, I was really damn excited for a controller that could be customized. Lets just hope the actual shell of the controller fits well in the hand.
 

Scrythe

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Jun 23, 2009
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uchytjes said:
Scrythe said:
Andy Chalk said:
"A game controller is provided. One or more main control input interfaces on the game controller consist of generalized sockets," the patent abstract states. "A variety of modular input interfaces can be plugged into these sockets. Hardware specific to the input type of the modular input is contained within the modular input itself, and plugged in via an interface."
I'm sorry, isn't this something that has already existed in several [http://www.cyborggaming.com/imgs/v3pad.png] other [http://www.cyborggaming.com/imgs/rumblepadmain.png] iterations [http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_AAvC0ZSs-1k/S_F6l8dsZxI/AAAAAAAAB3E/uPy-bAsibRM/s400/Phoenix-Reconfigurable-Cont.jpg] in the past?

How the hell can Valve hold a patent for something that already exists?
You know those random patent cases that occasionally come up about already widely used things? Basically that, only with valve actually acting on the creation of the thing rather than just suing people to get money.
I'm not entirely sure I understand what you're saying here. Valve's patent is four years old. I just posted three controllers that have been around since the early 2000's. This isn't a case of Valve squatting on a patent and not enforcing legal action when others copy them, this is a case of them somehow having a patent on a product that has existed sometime before Valve filed theirs.

This would be like me walking into the patent office today and claiming I invented a controller with two joysticks.
 

Charli

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Nov 23, 2008
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rhizhim said:
lefties will be satisfied.

and considering it is open for modification they will sure as hell try to aplly it to any other gaming device once they figure out how they work.
And HOW. My left hand is shaking in anticipation. I hope they rework a fair bit of that diagram but otherwise it looks rather nice. And...hopefully it's not huge either, my dainty little lady fingers could not handle the xbox controller when it launched.

And a track ball... yisssssssszzzzzzz I hope it works well... I really do.
 

Owyn_Merrilin

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Trackball? I can see that being pretty danged amazing for shooters. If it's got a high enough DPI and you can set the sensitivity high enough (and, of course, if it can act as a mouse instead of a weird joystick, like certain PS3 and 360 controllers I've heard of), this might finally be a controller that can compete on equal footing with a mouse and keyboard.